The kosmische design of Peter Geitner


Cyborg (1973) by Klaus Schulze.

More German music design. Once you start delving into the music produced in Germany between 1969 and 1975 you eventually notice that a) the good albums generally have decent cover designs, and b) there are many justly forgotten albums with astonishingly tasteless artwork. Most of the well-known names were smart enough to craft a visual identity: Kraftwerk’s efforts have been explored here recently but there was also the Gothic Surrealism of Falk-U Rogner’s photo montages for Amon Düül II (worthy of a post in themselves); Neu! followed the lead of Kraftwerk with strikingly minimal presentation; Faust’s debut album was released on transparent vinyl in a clear sleeve while their second album was an all-black sleeve with a series of strange pictures inside, one for each song. Can are a notable exception in having no clear identity.


Peter Geitner is unique in this scene in being the only graphic designer you can find who was creating any kind of consistent identity for a label and a group of artists. Almost all the work here is for Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser’s short-lived Kosmische Musik which replaced the earlier Die Kosmischen Kuriere. Both labels were offshoots of Ohr Records (Tangerine Dream’s original home), and catered mostly to the musicians based in Berlin, with a later detour to Switzerland. All the releases feature Geitner’s recurrent motifs of radiating stars and sunburst graphics. I think one of the reasons I like Geitner’s design is because I have a tendency to use similar spiky sunbursts in my own work. Whatever Geitner did after the collapse of Kosmische Musik I’ve yet to discover.


The standard design for the vinyl labels. Many of the albums were released as quadrophonic mixes so the star logo also signifies multi-directional sound. Klaus Schulze’s album is nothing if not cosmic, four sides of treated strings and swirling synth noise.


Seven Up (1973) by Timothy Leary & Ash Ra Tempel.

This is a reissue design that replaces the more common sleeve with its Walter Wegmüller doodles and poor layout. I didn’t used to like the music very much either, two sides of bluesy jams with Tim Leary and cohorts bellowing over the top. But it’s a historical oddity, a rare connection between the US psychedelic scene and the German music which took psychedelia in new directions.


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The sphinx of Wolf City


Wolf City (1972) by Amon Düül II.

Behold another favourite album cover by a favourite band, one of several superb designs for Amon Düül II by Falk-U Rogner who was also the group’s keyboard player. Rogner’s suitably hallucinogenic cover images are worth a post of their own but this one requires attention today since I happened to solve the mystery of the location of the Düül sphinx during the recent hiatus.

Ever since I began these blog posts I’ve had a feeling that the endless trawling of image archives might one day turn up the location of this stone creature. It was only ever going to be something you’d find by accident, and that’s precisely what happened with the discovery of the drawing below in volume 4 of Materials and Documents of Architecture and Sculpture (1915) by A. Raguenet, a set of books I’ve been plundering recently for architectural details.


Compare with this photo.

The notes for the drawing offer enough information to trace the location to the Brunswick Monument in Geneva, a mausoleum built in 1879 for the Duke of Brunswick. The monument is a typically Gothic edifice guarded by a number of stone lions plus this splendid sphinx on a plinth by a pool of water. On the opposite side of the monument there’s a matching bird-headed sculpture. Amon Düül II were a German group so it was always likely that the sphinx would be in Europe somewhere, if not Germany itself. The photo below is a detail from this Flickr shot which is the best match I’ve found for the angle of the cover photo. Jean Franel was the monument architect but statues are often the work of specialist artists, and I’ve yet to find a name attached to these examples.


Photo by Till Westermayer.

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